Wheel of Fortune
This Tarot Deck: Moon Garden
General Meaning: The central theme of what is traditionally called the Wheel of Fortune card is cyclical change. The Wheel keeps on rolling, churning events in a ceaseless progression of ups and downs, either way freeing us from the past. No one can escape its cyclical action, which can feel somewhat terrifying — no matter whether we are rising or falling. When one is balanced on top there is a moment of crystal clarity, but the only part of the Wheel not going up and down is the hub, which is your eternal Self, the Source of Freedom.
Every one of us will occupy all the points on the wheel at some time or another. The cycle of the wheel is its lesson — and we can learn to take comfort in it (as we do when we celebrate our birthday). If you don’t like the look of things right now, just wait — things will change. Of course, if you do like the look of things right now, enjoy it while it lasts, because that will change too!
This Tarot Deck: Etteilla
General Meaning: Although it has taken on a strictly romantic revision of meaning in some modern decks, traditionally the Lovers card of Tarot reflected the challenges of choosing a partner. At a crossroads, one cannot take both paths. The images on this card in different decks have varied more than most, because we have had so many ways of looking at sex and relationships across cultures and centuries.
Classically, the energy of this card reminded us of the real challenges posed by romantic relationships, with the protagonist often shown in the act of making an either-or choice. To partake of a higher ideal often requires sacrificing the lesser option. The path of pleasure eventually leads to distraction from spiritual growth. The gratification of the personality eventually gives way to a call from spirit as the soul matures.
Modern decks tend to portray the feeling of romantic love with this card, showing Adam and Eve at the gates of Eden when everything was still perfect. This interpretation portrays humanity before the Fall, and can be thought to imply a different sort of choice — the choice of evolution over perfection, or the choice of personal growth through relationship — instead of a fantasy where everything falls into place perfectly and is taken care of without effort.
This Tarot Deck: Esoterico
General Meaning: Traditionally known as the Hierophant, this card refers to a Master and the learning of practical lessons from the study of Natural Law. This energy of this card points to some agent or resource that can reveal the secrets of life, the cycles of the moon and tides, the links between human beings and the heavens.
Because monasteries were the only places a person could learn to read and write in the middle ages, a Hierophant was one to whom a student would petition for entry. He was the one to set the curriculum for the neophyte’s course of study.
Often pictured with the right hand raised in blessing, the Hierophant is linked with the ancient lineage of Melchezidek, initiator of the Hebrew priestly tradition, the one who passes on the teachings. All shamans of any tradition draw upon this archetype.
This Tarot Deck: Crowley
Traditionally entitled “Empress,” this major arcana or “trump” card portrays the energy of the Great Mother. She is Nature, around us but also within us, the ever-unfolding Source of life-giving power. She is often pictured as a pre-Christian Goddess, as the one whom the High Priestess is channeling down to earth for the rest of us.
In medieval Europe, the Empress card was painted to represent whatever Queen currently ruled the land, probably to satisfy the Inquisitors. But the scholars of the Renaissance and beyond had no doubt of her true identity, although she could not be fully revealed on Tarot cards as the “woman clothed with the sun” until after the French Revolution.
This supreme archetype of femininity also symbolizes fertility. It is She who provides us nourishment and security. She is also sometimes seen as delighting us with flowers and fruit. A potentially terrifying aspect of this archetype manifests itself whenever karmic mood swings wipe out our plans, like a storm that has come upon us. Whatever happens, the Empress is the Source of our Embodiment and of Natural Law. She might even be called “the Great Recycler.”
36: Darkening of the Light
General Meaning: When light becomes dim, it may be wise to become invisible. The image is of fresh darkness, the period after the sun has gone down or the fire has gone out. There is still much activity left over from the light of day, while movements in the outer world become more dangerous. Even the smallest sound, the faintest glow of light, can attract unwanted attention.
When the darkness of stupidity reigns, it is best that your own brilliance stay ‘hidden under a bushel basket.’ That is, your thoughts and efforts should be quiet and self-contained, and protected, as much as possible, from disruptive influences.
Whatever you do, don’t let yourself be swept along on the current of conventional wisdom when dangerous uncertainties exist. Try not to become too depressed or anxious; this period will pass. Just endure it for now and inwardly preserve your self-confidence, while outwardly remaining cooperative and flexible. The time to assert yourself will come. Avoid looking too far ahead if you have not yet achieved your goals. That only feeds regret and longing, which can eat away at your inner resources.
Be cautious and reserved. Control yourself. Do not needlessly awaken dormant forces of opposition. During dark, unsettled periods, it is best to step gingerly around the sleeping dogs.
The Hanged Man
This Tarot Deck: Old English
Traditionally, the card known as the Hanged Man usually indicates a lack of ability to help oneself through independent action. This energy is arrested and awaiting judgment. With this card, there is no avenue for the will to regain control until the situation has passed.
This represents a good time to be philosophical, to study and meditate upon the position you find yourself in, and form resolutions for the moment you become free again. Only those who possess wisdom, patience and optimism will be able to see through limitations, including possible humiliation, to grasp the inspiring lesson one can gain from such an experience
General Meaning: Innocence flows from a natural harmlessness, openness and pure intentions, unsullied by ulterior motives. The state of innocence has less to do with age than attitude; innocence springs from a heart that remains open to joy and wonder. Innocence, when guided by a firm faith in what is right, brings supreme success. Naiveté unanchored by an ability to discern right from wrong, on the other hand, brings misfortune.
The hallmark of innocence is a willingness to treat others with compassion and respect in a natural way. Those who possess a pure heart are best guided by their instincts and intuition. Thinking too much makes it difficult to hear the guidance of the heart, the suggestions of a clear intuition. Stay simple and be wary of cleverness.
This Tarot Deck: Morgan-Greer
Traditionally, what has been known as the Justice card has to do with moral sensitivity and that which gives rise to empathy, compassion and a sense of fairness. Since the time of Solomon, this image has represented a standard for the humane and fair-minded treatment of other beings.
Often including the image of a fulcrum which helps to balance competing needs against the greater good, and a two-edged sword to symbolize the precision needed to make clear judgments, this card reminds us to be careful to attend to important details. It’s a mistake to overlook or minimize anything where this card is concerned. The law of Karma is represented here — what goes around comes around.
General Meaning: Following brings supreme success. You may not be able to change the direction of the wind, but by frequently adjusting your sails, you can arrive at your destination.
Those who would acquire a following must speak the language of their followers. Those who would be loved must become the envisioned lover of their beloved. Those who would prosper must bend with natural forces and the pressures of society. In matters of principle, stand firm; in matters of style and taste, swim with the current.
In all human affairs, change is constant. In order to stay fresh, old ideas and patterns must continually be discarded in favor of new ones. Only by being adaptable to the demands of the time can the highest good emerge. Only by adjusting to changing circumstances can you prosper. Remain flexible, and you will gain the confidence of those around you. Bend and you shall not break.